Season Preview: Women's Basketball Looking to Run to Seventh Title

Monday, November 14, 2011 - page 2
 

Before a recent Muhlenberg women’s basketball practice, senior Katy Rossino could not stop talking about her new sneakers.

“They’re so shiny and look so cool,” she gushed about the new black high tops.

Hopefully those shoes are as comfortable as they are eye-catching because according to Rossino, the Mules are planning on doing a lot of running when they open the season Tuesday evening at Moravian. With 18 players, including 12 returnees, she said the Mules

Katy Rossino
Rossino averaged one assist almost every five minutes she was on the floor last season, which was tops on the team.
have the depth to try to push the tempo and wear opponents down, which is right in her comfort zone.

“Before, I would come off the bench and be the point guard that would try to get the other team tired,” Rossino said. “But now I’m hoping to have a bigger impact this year. I think we’re going to look to get out on the fast break, run and score a lot, which is what I love to do.”

Despite losing the program’s all-time assists leader and two of the top ten career scorers from last year’s Centennial Conference championship and “Sweet 16” team, Muhlenberg welcomes back nearly 70 percent of its scoring. And for the fourth year in a row, senior Alexandra Chili will be at the center of the offensive equation for the Mules, who were picked first in the CC preseason poll and are ranked in the top 20 in both national polls.

A D3hoops.com preseason All-American and three-time all-conference performer, Chili led the conference,

Kathleen Naddaff
Naddaff ranks third amongst active Mules with 217 career rebounds.
and ranked 27th in Division III, in scoring last fall, averaging 18.8 points per game. She already holds the Muhlenberg and CC records for career 3-pointers (253) and is less than 200 points away from the school scoring mark.

Junior Alita Zabrecky returns after earning honorable mention all-conference honors last season. She finished second on the team with 14 double-digit scoring games and averaged 9.3 points per game, good for third on the squad in 2010-11. A versatile player, she also ranked second in steals and third in rebounding.

While the Mules have the balanced roster to look to get out in the open court and create easy scoring chances, they also have the size to go inside and also create problems for opposing offenses.

Six players stand at least 6 feet tall, with another five checking in at 5-foot-11 for a squad that set a program record with 152 blocks last season.

Senior Kathleen Naddaff and sophomore Leeann Lanza should form a solid 1-2 punch on the inside. They combined to average 10.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game a season ago.

Juniors Kate Clawson and Julie Kelly, and sophomores Erin Laney and Katy Mitton developed into solid contributors last season, and the Mules welcome back senior Kimberly Mui, who missed all of last season because of injury.

Add what Rossino called a “talented” freshmen class to that experienced core, and the Mules hope they have the right ingredients to make a run at a seventh CC championship and fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.

And while she said the team doesn’t want to get ahead of itself before the season even starts, Rossino admitted expectations are high. And come March, she hopes her shiny, black sneakers are doing plenty of dancing.

“We expect to play at a high level and win a lot of games. We feel like any loss is a major disappointment, so hopefully we won’t have to worry about too many of those this year,” Rossino said. “We want to get another conference title, go at least as far as we did last year and hopefully further. We’re all pretty excited and can’t wait to start the season.”